Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | August 31, 2009

A Turret Buried in the Sand

Dutch Island, RI. August 11, 2009.


“You’re here!”

A voice shimmies up the buried castle turret and bursts free into clear sunshiny sky over a deserted stretch of land by the sea.

There is nobody around to hear the voice. Nor has there been for a hundred years. Thankfully, humans are not the only creatures with ears, voices, or curiousity.

Deep in the stone dungeon that was once a stone tower (tides carrying sand across the sea from distant countries took care of that), a crow alights on a thin girl’s folded knee. Her pale, almost blue skin seems to glow against the bird’s dark feathers.

“Did you bring me anything?” The girl’s voice asks as her hands reach out to feel what the crow might be carrying in his beak. To her delight, he drops a vine full of ripe grapes in her lap.

She leans forward to eat and it becomes apparent that she is not your typical trapped and forgotten princess. Folded behind her bony shoulders are two purple, bedraggled wings.

Why can’t she just fly out of her prison? It is only 100 feet straight up to a square of blue sky. But alas, the walls are too close together and she can’t open her wings enough to stretch them, let alone fly.

“Delicious!” She pats the crow’s back, then begins to break grapes into smaller pieces with a sharp stone.

“Try some,” she holds out the feast to the rest of her companions: a snail, a rabbit, and a family of glow worms. The rabbit gets the first bite. He fell into the turret one day, and with the crow’s help, she nursed him back to health.

The crow taps her shoulder; the grapes were not all he brought.

Tucked in one clenched foot is a rope.

The girl runs her hands along its length. It’s only as long as her armspan, but it’s long enough to add to her collection. She lifts a pile of patiently braided and knotted bits of rope, and begins to add the newest piece.

The crow squawks happily. “That’ll be the last one, I’m sure,” the girl imagines him saying.

She pays him from her stash of glittery mica stones harvested from the walls, and the crow flies up, carrying one end of the rope.

It’s pointless to get her hopes up — the rope is never quite long enough.

But this time… this time, she can actually reach out and touch where it dangles down from that square of freedom.

“What do you think?” She asks her companions.

They are very quiet friends, though, and they are too busy munching on the rest of the grapes.

“I think it’s time,” she says, and stretches her feet out to touch the wall while her hands hold the rope.

She makes it up four or five feet before gazing back behind her. The glow worms cast a greenish tinge over her prison, and the rabbit looks up with mournful eyes.

She drops back down to the ground. “How can I take you with me?”

In her mind, she sees another length of rope, holding the rabbit, snail, and glowworms against her in a sling.

“Let us wait! It won’t be long,” she promises.

Above, the sunshiny sky fades to the same dark purple color as her wings.


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